This Schoolhouse Rocks!

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Just a couple of blocks away from our headquarters stands a little whitewashed schoolhouse on the grounds of the Iowa County Historical Society. However, it hasn’t been there very long. The building was moved to the site from the rural community of Floyd, about five miles north of Dodgeville, in 2008. Many of us at Lands’ End remember watching the truck carrying the school and its attendant convoy of support vehicles crawl past our office window.

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Since then it has been lovingly restored to its former glory by local volunteers. The building itself dates back to 1886, although lessons began at Floyd in the 1840s in a log cabin. The first schoolhouse was built in 1855.

“It burned down twice,” says Margaret Peat, who has compiled the school’s history, including the names of students and teachers from pioneer days to 1961 when it closed.

Janette Hartmann, curator of the society’s museum, enjoys welcoming visitors, some of whom attended Floyd School in its later years. The school is also a popular field trip destination for local schools, proving today’s children still love chalkboards as well as iPads.

The classroom is filled with artifacts, many original to the school. Pride of place is the beautifully restored wood stove (shown before and after restoration):

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There are also hands-on teaching materials, like this printing set:

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…and ingenious, home-made devices that made learning fun half a century ago:

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Of course, there are lots of books and puzzles:

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Behind the teacher’s desk is the original radio. The class would tune in for science lessons taught over the airwaves from Madison, WI.

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As you’d expect in an old schoolhouse, there’s no plumbing, but there is a “bubbler” (as we call it in these parts):

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The shelf where kids stored their lunchboxes is loaded with classic Americana:

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“People who visit the schoolhouse have very vivid memories of when they attended,” says Hartmann. “They have happy memories. The experience of attending a one-room school appears to have been very enjoyable.” She adds that in the close-knit rural community, the one-room school felt like a family. Thanks to the diligent research and hard work of local volunteers, we too have a chance to step back in time and experience an “old school” education, if only for a few moments. We’re glad to be neighbors.

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